Graduate Program

Family Studies Building

The Human Development and Family Studies discipline emphasizes diverse ways that persons develop within their social and familial contexts. Graduate study includes examinations of theory, research, and intervention/practice, and their interplay across the full lifespan of individual development and within the context of family and social systems.


The research interests of the Department’s faculty and graduate students currently cluster in six overlapping areas of specialization:


Core Curriculum

There is a core curriculum designed to provide all students with this foundation. All areas of specialization within the graduate program involve an emphasis on:

  • Lifespan Human Development (in ecological context)
  • Diversity & Culture
  • Promoting Healthy Individuals and Families (prevention, intervention, and policy)
  • Basic and Applied Research

Doctoral Studies

The HDFS program at UConn is one of a very select number of programs in the U.S. that offers Doctoral studies in Human Development and Family Studies, including a doctoral level training program in marriage and family therapy. Qualified applicants to the PhD program may enter with either a BA/BS or MA/MS degree in a related profession or discipline including but not limited to:

Marriage and family therapy
Parent education
Public health and health psychology
Social work
Early intervention services
Positive youth development


Students design programs of study that will advance their skills in intervention /clinical practice (through acceptance into the Marriage and Family Therapy area of specialization) as well as program evaluation, policy studies, and research methods. All students accepted for doctoral studies receive support (including tuition waivers, stipends, and access to health insurance) through fellowships or graduate assistantships.

Upon completion of the PhD program, many graduates enter post-doctoral fellowships or traditional academic positions. Others are employed by non-profit agencies, state and federal government agencies, health/hospital research, and human services research or policy positions.

Master’s Studies

The HDFS program also offers graduate study leading to a Masters’ degree in Human Development and Family Studies. Individuals interested in advancing their professional skills in marriage and family therapy, parent education, prevention and health promotion, or program evaluation may apply for a Master’s degree to pursue study in one of the areas of specialization listed above. M.A. applicants should contact faculty in their interest-area to learn about opportunities. MA-only students are not guaranteed support through departmental assistantships but are offered these opportunities whenever possible.

Specialized M.A. and Ph.D. tracks offer a program of study in Marriage and Family Therapy that are approved by the Commission on Accreditation of Marriage and Family Therapy Education (COAMFTE). The COAMFTE has defined a Standard Curriculum with requirements that, if fulfilled, provide acceptable training for the field of Marriage and Family Therapy.

Graduate Certificates

The Graduate School offers a number of Certificate Programs in related disciplines to supplement both Master’s and Doctoral degrees. Popular certificate programs in HDFS include:

For Master’s and Ph.D. students:

For Ph.D. students:

Additional credentials that M.A. and Ph.D. students may pursue within the Department include:

The Graduate Student website has a full list of available Certificate Programs for Master’s and Doctoral students.